The leader of North Korea got his first taste of Russian hospitality after his famous armored train arrived at a border crossing. Shrouded in secrecy, Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia is his first since coming to power.
All three generations of the North Korean ruling family have used this unconventional form of transportation for state visits. Kim Jong-un on Wednesday morning rode across the border with Russia at its only crossing – a railroad bridge – and was welcomed by Russian officials at the nearest station.
Wearing his distinctive black coat and a black fedora, the North Korean leader departed the fortified train at the Hasan station for some handshaking. He was welcomed by the governor of Russia’s Primorsky Region and several senior officials from Moscow who arrived early for the upcoming summit.
Kim was also treated to the Russian bread and salt ceremony. Traditionally, honored guests are presented with ‘karavai’ – large round bread – with salt.
The main part of Kim’s visit is scheduled for Thursday, when he will meet President Vladimir Putin for the first time. The state visit is a rare event for the two nations. Putin visited North Korea once in 2000, but Kim has never visited Russia since taking power in in 2011.
The visit is shrouded in secrecy and was not confirmed until Tuesday. The exact program remains undisclosed, fueling speculation over how long Kim is going to stay and which sites in Russia he will visit. It is rumored that the Vladivostok city aquarium, the headquarters of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, and local bread and dairy factories may be on the list.